Sample Poetry

KID HOLLYWOOD & THE NAVAJO DOG
Poems By

Larry Brody


Published By Wayfarer Press

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Copyright © 1993 By Larry Brody

3rd Printing, November, 1994


November 13, 1993; First Poem Since ’65

The dogs huddle together, beneath the gray sky,

Remembering warmer days, the peace of the sun,

The breeze of smug dreams.

I watch them from the window, red dog up against gold,

So much like the leaves that eddy past in the wind.

My own dreams, on dark days, chill more than inspire.

Heat is a thing of the past, hope less a fact than a desire.

The dogs know now shall pass, and then will return.

I know only how the sun forever has been covered by

Pearl, and the green of tomorrow always has been

Yesterday’s brown. Still, I live, I breathe the thin air,

And where red dog and golden one blend at furred ribs

And accept,

I howl.

I howl.

I protest.

Kid Hollywood

Kid Hollywood used the living room’s dark, the

TV tube’s glare, and the glittering stars with whom

He made friends

To hide who he was, what he wanted, and all he

Could be.

Hid because there’s no audience, not for

Poetry.

And no money. And no

Friends.

Hid because to be was to feel,

Was to reveal,

Was to be at the

Mercy of those who found truth in the tube

And the dark, and the glitter.

Kid Hollywood stood guard, donned 60-page armor,

Brightly outfitted, perfectly formatted, immaculately conceived

Scripts that delighted, and corrupted, and spun

Truth into straw.

(Not that Kid Hollywood knew.)

Kid Hollywood wrote,

Turned out word after word, all dingy disagreements, all

Confrontations, all

Car chases and screams. He wrote and he sat in that

Living room’s black hole, and he stared at that

White-washed screen.

The Kid wrote, and he sat, and he stared,

And he bought, how many dinners for how many

Constellations, how many configurations of Sirius and

Orion and the Big Bear?

How many luminous experiences with

Luminaries who could remember

Neither their lines nor

His name?

(Not that Kid Hollywood knew.)

Kid Hollywood wrote, and he sat, and he stared, and he bought,

Because he feared. He feared that

To know him was to push, was to prod,

Was to maim and permanently impair

The talent

He’d already

Darkened from all the glare.

Or was it really the Kid’s own

Wounds Kid Hollywood so feared?

Is that why his last series

—You remember, the unsold one,

The one he called, “Despair”—

Found no audience, no money, no friends?

(Not that Kid Hollywood knew.)

The Love I Know

Country music gives us the verities:

Love,

Betrayal,

And Death.

I live it all everyday, yet still I listen, as

Betrayal becomes the most beautiful

Possible reward, courtesy of a backbeat

And a mournful slide guitar, and

Death grows more desirable than

The most perfect lifetime, drowning

Betrayer and betrayed in a torrent of

Fiddles that could overpower any tide.

But country love pales beside the

Love I

Know.

No voice, no instrument,

no sequined yoke dress or hand painted

Pair of boots

Has ever been touched as I have,

By a woman whose truth makes

The certainties of Nashville and Branson

As false as an ember from Garth’s

Or Trish’s

Or Reba’s

Ceramic campfire log.

Indian People See Things No One Else Can

Indian people see things no one else can.

They hear the elements, and smell the spirits

Within each clod of their Mother’s earth.

The Indians say I can see the magic too, if I try hard enough.

They say I’ll be able to hear, and even sniff out the scent.

But they don’t want me around.

They don’t want any wannabes,

Any turquoise-wearing Anglos,

No matter how high their cheekbones or their aims.

Even the most well-meant of intentions

Have caused too much pain.

Still, I took the form of an eagle once, and

Flew with a Hopi elder, through a sky that

Spoke straight to me.

Even in man-form, the elder had an eagle’s eyes,

All pupil, with no iris, although it was the middle of the day,

And black, as black as the heart of anyone

Working for the BIA.

He knew I was afraid of heights, and took me to a high

Mesa, where the wind roared like the sea.

There we prayed—a chant, the waving of a

Sacred gourd—and I gave myself to his wishes, which

Weren’t really his but mine.

I stopped fighting the gusts, and let them take me,

And together we took off.

It took only seconds for the fear to knot tightly

Around my newly-feathered soul, and I knew I didn’t

Wannabe anymore.

“Tough!” the sky said, and I soared. I saw the Indians’

Mother as eagles see her, smelled the clouds

as eagles smell. “This is real,” the sky said.

“Earth, air, wind, and sky. This is true.”

My fear was flung downward, plummeting to

the rocks far below, and I screeched a

Reply. “This is true,” I screeched.

“True.” Earth, air, wind, and sky.”

Then we landed, and I was a man once more,

Sitting cross-legged beside a weathered Indian

Who wore a red bandanna around his graying head,

A weathered Indian with an eagle’s eyes.

I thanked him, and together we walked back to my truck.

I knew I was walking on his Mother,

And that she would never be mine.

I’m not an Indian, nor do I wannabe.

But sometimes I dream about the

Mesa, and I see things no one else does.

I hear the elements, and smell the spirits

Within each clod of earth.

Listen

There’s this voice, see, and it keeps speaking to me,

Sometimes at night, sometimes during the day.

Always it’s uncomfortable, with the tone of an

Instrument long unused. It’s awkward, too,

Shrill and urgent, like a car alarm, a klaxon,

Instead of a siren of old.

The way I look at it, a seduction would be much better,

More fun than an alarm.

Want me to do-right-be-right-feel-right?

Great, hey, no problem, make me an offer

I don’t want to refuse.

Be whisper, lispery, overbite-lickery.

Stroke my chest and tangle our limbs,

Nestle near as you can to my heart.

But these orders from within

And frantic Jiminy Cricketry

Just send me running.

They drive me away from the truth.

First Snow

Standing in the doorway, I watch the snow fall,

And think about love.

The thought is as cold as the snow looks.

Hard, scattered, sheeting down from afar.

Pelting and dangerous. I could skid.

I could fall.

Bundling up, I go out in the snow,

And feel love.

The feeling is as warm as the snow when

It melts on my face. Soft, steady, a

Nourishing nearness as it drips

Through the wanting lips of my

Wind-polished skin.

I taste the snow,

And I know life’s for the feeling.

To live is to do, not merely to be.

Dancing Stars

My friend the wild Indian

(See the feathers! Hear the bells!)

Points up at the night sky. Stars fixed

Like pinholes in black paper stare down,

Immobile, secure.

My friend the wild Indian

(See him dance! Hear him sing!)

Tells me of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse,

His long-departed kin.

They are up there, he says, two out of the

Millions of points of pure light. But they are

Different. They live, says

My friend the wild Indian.

(See his frenzy! Hear his ghosts!)

I watch for the life, inhaling the sage and the

Sweetgrass that burn around the circle where

the Fancy Dancers whirled,

Where my friend shook his feathers and

Rang his bells, where he danced, sang,

And lived his frenzy, and became all his

Lost people’s ghosts.

I watch for the life, and I see it, two stars

Breaking away. They move slowly at

First, like the wheels of one of the

Steam locomotives that conquered this

Prairie before the engine has

Gathered enough steam. But then the

Stars whirl, capering and twisting,

Twirling around each other, moving in

Historical patterns, the same ones used by

The dancers earlier in the day.

They are speaking,

My friend the wild Indian

(See his story! Hear his past!)

Says. There is a great message here,

Of motion, of action, without distance although far.

Others join us, all watching, listening,

Children at the storytellers’ knees,

All the wild Indians

(See the feathers! Hear the bells!)

Left on the summer plains.

The story, the dance, the night life of the

Late, great Lakotas continues as hours

Sweep by. The sage and the sweetgrass

Burn down, yet the Dancing Stars’ message

Remains until Dawn. I thank

My friend the wild Indian,

(See the frenzy! Hear the past!)

But the honor is not without pain.

What will I do if I never

See the dance or hear the song

Of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse again?

Death Changed Her Mind

Death came for me one November afternoon,

At a time I believed to be right.

I felt cold, much colder than the day,

And began sweating like a runner

Smack up against the wall. My forearms

Swelled, and I gasped for breath.

Again and again I tried to gulp air, but there was never

Enough. I panted. Choked. Cleared my throat.

Still, no air. Just frost, coating my lungs.

I twisted. Writhed. Fell, a fetus again, curled

Up on the floor.

My vision narrowed to a cone before me,

The darkness of a moonless, starless

—Loveless—night all around.

I entered the cone. Walked uncertainly down it,

Feeling my way with each foot.

Reached the cone’s end. Felt overcome by

Warmth, and peace I had never had before.

Cross the line, damn it, man! Cross the line!

Claim your reward!

But Death changed her mind.

You bring me nothing, I heard her voice say.

Nothing.

I bring you myself!

Not enough. Not enough of yourself.

Come back when you know better.

When you know who you are.

I lay on the floor, in the cold and the

Sweat, chest filled with ice.

Rejected by Death. Bereft.

Yet comforted.

I knew the future! I knew what awaits!

Now, though, I fear. Because in knowing myself

—At stern Death’s command—I also grew to

Know you.

And that knowledge makes Life—

Finally—the prize.

2 thoughts on “Sample Poetry

  1. Terry says:

    As one who is part Cherokee, I’m particularly drawn to the Indian-related poems, but I’m touched by the sincerity of your revelations in all of your poetry. For me, poetry pulls from the soul of the writer and reaches into the soul of the reader – to inspire, to ignite, to remind, to create a sense of wonder, and in this case, to respond.

    Poetry is not always easy to read or understand. In my poetry class in college, I often found it frustrating, because I didn’t understand the nuances or the insinuations. It irritated me to have to spend so much time analyzing each poem (even though I wrote poetry).

    I did not have to struggle through yours, though. I could see your images, feel your pain, your fear, your sense of wonder. And I loved some of the lines – Rejected by Death – tragedy and comedy at the same time. Brilliant!

    By the way, I have always been bothered by people who “buy” stars for others, because I believe that those little lights in sky already represent souls who have once lived and who now are inhabiting this earth.

    The Wiza One 🙂

    • LB says:

      Why, thank you, Terry. To me, self-revelation is what makes work “art.” Giving out pieces of my soul probably should cause me pain, but it doesn’t because when I do it I feel like I’m finally in a moment when I’m totally myself.

      Every word in my poetry is, of course, emotionally true. And every event is true as well. I’ve never gotten around to learning how to use metaphor because all my life has seemed a metaphor to me. (For what? Well, that’s what I’m still trying to learn.)

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